Sky/Chinese lanterns

This advice is designed to provide basic guidance to consumers. It is not a complete or authoritative statement of the law.

Industry Code of Practice - Sky Lanterns


Dangers of use
  • Risk to farm animals through ingesting the wires in the spent lantern frame
  • Risk to aircraft through distraction of pilots. The Civil Aviation Authority has recommended lanterns are not launched without prior notification of any nearby airfield 
  • Risk to coastal shipping (false alarms to the Coastguard Agency from the public mistaking a lantern for a distress flare)
  • Risk of fire from lanterns landing on property (e.g. thatched roofs), crops or areas of heath or bracken, especially in dry conditions

The Civil Aviation Authority, The Maritime & Coastguard Agency and Hampshire Fire and Rescue have guidelines on the use of these products.

How to use safely
  • Do not launch a lantern if any part is damaged
  • Follow operating instructions very carefully Ideally a lantern should be launched by two adults
  • It is not suitable for children under 16 and is not a toy
  • Do not launch whilst under the influence of alcohol
  • At the launch have a fire extinguisher or water nearby
  • Optimum conditions for launching is when it is dry and not raining
  • It should not be launched if winds are 5 mph or more
  • Do not launch within 5 miles of any airfield or airport
  • Do not use near roads, dry standing crops, hay bales or places where lanterns may be interpreted as a distress signal, especially near the coast (if near the coast it may be advisable to telephone the coastguard to forewarn them and/or take their advice)
  • Advisable to contact a local authority, or fire service for a risk assessment on the location of launch and other advice if considering a mass launch
  • Do not launch in built up areas, near trees or power lines, only in open spaces
  • Before use store in a cool dry place
  • Launching a lantern in an inappropriate location or weather condition, or any inappropriate manner may cause damage to persons or property which may make you liable for criminal charges or civil claims for damages